CHATTANOOGA (UTC Athletics) — The Chattanooga Mocs were in position. Up four, 52-48, heading into the final five minutes, their record was a sterling 12-1 with the lead at that moment, 4-1 when the score is within five points either way at 5:00. That did not matter in the end as Western Carolina left with a pivotal 64-61 Southern Conference win.
It was a grind it out, defensive affair with both teams struggling to make shots. David Jean-Baptiste led the Mocs with 17 points, joined in double figures by Matt Ryan and Ramon Vila with 12. Mason Faulkner led all scorers with 18 for Western, while Carlos Dotson added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
The Catamounts went on a quick 5-0 run to take a one-point leads at 3:40 on a Mason Faulkner free throw. David Jean-Baptiste answered powering through contact for a three-point play.
His layup at 1:58 made it a three-point advantage, 57-54. Western’s next possession summed up the ending. Onno Steger missed at the basket, but teammate Tyler Harris got the rebound out to Faulkner for three. He was off but Steger grabbed the miss and six second later Faulkner scored at the basket to cut the lead to one, 58-57.
“Basketball happens sometimes,” Coach Lamont Paris shared in the postgame media session. “We could have been in the same scenario with both teams blazing from the three-point line and shot the ball well. Instead of 64-61, it’s 84-81. We’d be sitting here in the same deal. It would have been the same exact plays.
“Offensive rebounds, loose scrap balls, the same exact plays.”
That sparked a 6-0 spurt to take the lead for good on a Carlos Dotson jumper in the paint with 38 seconds left. Jean-Baptiste drove, missed but followed with 11.8 to go getting to within one, 60-59. Faulkner made free throws at 11.0. The offense worked to find an open three. Just before the screening action opened up Stefan Kenić, Faulkner four Jean-Baptiste.
“We were about to get an open three for Stef [Kenić],” Paris added. “Our timing was off by a millisecond, which allowed them to foul. We got set up a fraction of a second late, and if we had been there earlier, we maybe could have delivered and had a three to tie the game.
“It was there, it was open from what I saw. Any time it gets down to that point you’re going to anticipate a foul and that’s what they did.”
He made them both and the Mocs called a 30-second timeout. Faulkner broke loose and found Harris at the basket in open court before a Chattanooga player could foul for the final of 64-61.
Today was the first in a three of four stretch at home. It continues Wednesday with ETSU rolling into the Roundhouse before a quick weekend getaway to Wofford (Feb. 8). It ends with VMI visiting the Scenic City on Feb. 12. Tickets are available on GoMocs.com or consider the new “All You Can Eat” option.
Chattanooga 14-9/5-5 | Western Carolina 14-7/6-4
“Basketball happens sometimes. We could have been in the same scenario with both teams blazing from the three-point line and shot the ball well. Instead of 64-61, it’s 84-81. We’d be sitting here in the same deal. It would have been the same exact plays. Offensive rebounds, loose scrap balls, the same exact plays.” – Coach Lamont Paris on poor offensive performance
“Making shots is usually out of the players’ control, but getting defensive rebounds down the stretch, those are in your control, so he just emphasized making plays like rebounds and not giving them second-chance points.” – Grad student Matt Ryan
Check out all we heard at the link above.
3 NOTES TO KNOW
– Jean-Baptiste topped the 800-point mark in career scoring during the second half. He now has 811 in his third season. His 303 for the season is a new career best in just his 23rd outing.
– Ryan’s four threes made comes on the heels of five in Wednesday’s win at Samford. He’s made multiple threes 16 times and four or more on eight occasions. Ryan’s made 201 behind the arc in his career including 82 at Notre Dame (2016-17), 59 at Vanderbilt (2019) and 60 to date.
– 14th time this season holding an opponent under 70 points going 11-3 in those matchups. Just the fourth time Western Carolina failed to reach it (1-3). The Cats were held 16 points below their SoCon-leading scoring average entering the game (80.0).
Check out all the notables at the link above.
3 STATS TO KNOW
– 33.8 percent (22-65) shooting is the lowest at home this season just below 35.0 percent (21-60) in the win over Tennessee State in the home opener.
– -5 rebound margin (39-44) allowing nine on the offensive glass. Three of the nine offensive rebounds came in the last 2:29 of the game.
– The two teams combined for just 11 3pt made with the Catamounts making a season-low four. Entering the game, Western Carolina (38.8%) was first and UTC (38.3%) second in 3pt percentage in SoCon games.